Newcastle factories close in protest

2010-08-26 00:00

CERTAIN clothing factories in Newcastle aligned to the Newcastle Chinese Chamber of Commerce have closed their doors indefinitely in protest at recent action taken against the clothing manufacturers by the National Bargaining Council.

Alex Liu, chairperson of the Newcastle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, told The Witness yesterday that the companies decided late on Tuesday afternoon to close their operations.

Liu challenged the bargaining council’s contention that the companies are paying their employees excessively low wages.

He said the council has not updated its records pertaining to wages of member firms of the chamber.

“The bargaining council has not provided any proof of this claim, whereas we have evidence that we are paying our staff fair wages,” said Liu.

It is understood that the police were present at two factory sites on Tuesday when writs of execution were served on the companies. The factories were shut down and the staff told to leave the premises. A further two factories are to be closed this week.

Liu said, “This is a no-win situation, but we have been forced to take this drastic, risky decision in the hope that a favourable solution can be found. The owners of these clothing companies are not foreigners. We are nationalised South Africans. Some of us are second-generation Chinese South Africans. We have created nearly 8 000 jobs that sustain about 40 000 people in our surrounding communities.”

The chamber added that officials from Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique are courting Newcastle-based clothing companies to relocate their operations.

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